Use of DNA in Criminal Investigation Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

Crime Scene Analysis

The case study presents a homicide incident, which occurred at 9170 Old Annapolis Road Columbia. The victim was Ashley Nicole Smith, and the investigations identified two suspects who were Scott Jory Jones, and Frederick James Johnson. This case involves a series of events in the efforts to bring the involved into justice. This case study presents an actual case, but the case study does not use the actual names for protection purposes. It was on 11/3/00 when two truck drivers while making a U-turn saw fresh blood. On close observation, the truck drivers saw the victim's body and notified the police (VCUIR, 2000).

The police responded, and on the scene of the crime, police noted that the victim (Ashley Nicole Smith) was dead. The efforts of identifying the victim were futile. However, scene technicians, forensic experts and other crime experts were in a position to collect substantial evidence. Police conducted several searches from high school databases, primarily because the dead victim was a young girl. Therefore, it was conclusive that she was a high school student, which helped police to identify Ashley Nicole Smith (VCUIR, 2000).

In the course of the investigations, police were told that a vehicle, with tinted windows, occupied by two black males was seen speeding through the intersection of Bendix Road and Old Annapolis Road. Autopsy on the victim's body made it clear that the victim sustained 34 stabs, and strangulation. Police continued holding interviews with the mother's victim, friends and acquaintances. There was an $8,000 reward, made public for information that would lead to potential arrests of suspects. Through phone calls, the police were able to establish a link between Ashley, and Scott Jones (VCUIR, 2000).

Further investigation found crucial evidence that linked Scott Jones and Frederick Johnson to the homicide incident; hence, police obtained search warrants. Subsequent interviews on Scott Jones made it apparent that he had knowledge about the homicide incident. He had provided information, which was consistent with his "story" but later on provided contradictory information. Although he was attempting to shield Frederick Johnson, he could not do it any longer, especially when police made him aware that Johnson had provided information in relation to the incident (VCUIR, 2000).

Therefore, Scott Jones had no option, but to own up. He was still reluctant, but several interviews, made him own up. Scott Jones, later on, tried to blame his friend, Frederick Johnson for the murder of Ashley Nicole Smith, but compelling evidence would not allow. On the other hand, police were able to locate Johnson using the warrants. Blood and hair collected from Frederick Johnson matched with the evidence collected in the crime scene, which earned him 1st Degree murder charge. Similar, Scott Jones was charged with 1st Degree Murder (VCUIR, 2000).

Purpose of this Paper

This paper uses the provided case study, on the incident of homicide involving the victim (Ashley Nicole Smith), and the identified suspects (Scott Jones and Frederick Johnson), to provide an analysis of the crime scene investigation, and evidence. The paper will also discuss the interviews conducted on the witnesses and suspects (Scott Jones and Frederick Johnson), investigative steps, suspect interrogations, constitutional challenges and a comparison of the applied strategies in relation to class teachings. In addition, this paper, through the case study provides an application of theory in practice.

Crime Scene and Evidence Analysis

Police got information concerning the homicide incident and responded appropriately. In this context, several experts arrive on the scene of the crime such as the main investigator, secondary investigators, CID supervisor, Crime Lab Technician, reporting persons, forensic experts, patrol units and mobile command post. This action shows compliance to the crime-scene investigation protocol (Walton, 2013). In addition, the patrol response first went to identify whether the reported case was true, which they affirmed and proceeded to protect the crime scene using a crime scene perimeter. In addition, present experts helped in the collection of samples from the victim.

This included samples such as DNA, from both the victim, and others that could lead to arrests of the suspects. In this incident, the search for any physical evidence was futile, but there was substantial trace evidence on the victim's bare body. From the analysis of the scene of crime, it is apparent that the crime scene investigation is a dynamic process. It follows a systematic procedure in the attempt to provide the happenings in the scene during crime (Miller, 2003). The primary investigator is seen collaborating with the other investigators in an effort to identify, and provide a reconstruction of the scene.

Effort to identify the victim were futile because the victim's body was covered with blood; however, forensic experts collected DNA samples (Schroeder and White, 2009), and police further conducted database searches in high schools. In addition, the first responders to the scene conducted a survey. This involved a walk through, which would help in identifying other potential evidence. It is important to note the current weather conditions as they can interfere with the evidence. On the other hand, the police took photos of the victim, especially showing the stabs and photos of the scene of the crime (Miller, 2003).

Evidence Analysis: Knife, DNA

Apparently, the effort to identify potential physical evidence was not a success. Police conducted a thorough search of the scene, which complies with the investigation protocol. Even though police were not able to gather physical evidence, they were able, through forensic experts to collect scientific evidence, which included DNA samples from the scene. The police also took a sketch of the scene, photo, and photo of the victim and subsequent description, which helped in the progress of the investigations. In this case, the utilization of forensic experts complies with the concept that every contact leaves potential trace, which can help in investigations (Schroeder and White, 2009).

Apparently, the case presents a homicide, and this leaves the law enforcement no evidence, except the DNA samples, and physical evidence. However, it was hard to obtain physical evidence, even after a thorough search of the scene of the crime. This left the law officers to collect the DNA samples, and it was constitutional. Therefore, the defense had no right to suppress such substantial evidence. On the other hand, it is in accordance with the investigation protocol. Therefore, collection of DNA, as potential evidence, was not a breach of human rights (Schroeder and White, 2009).

On the other hand, a witness collects the knife, which later on becomes a piece of evidence. The knife was around the scene of the crime, which makes it potential evidence. The defense could not also suppress this piece of evidence. In fact, the knife had bloodstain, and the witness who forwarded it to the police, had his DNA sample checked, and cleared. In the case of the knife, one can see Scott Jones giving a description that matched the knife in question. Furthermore, during the interview of Scott's mother and sister, his sister suggested he had seen Scott purchase the knife at the flea market.

Therefore, the knife was acquired legally, and the defense could not suppress such crucial evidence. In cases of homicide, DNA samples are the main sources of evidence. This was apparent because, after surveillance, and collection of the suspect's cigarettes, the DNA samples matched those collected at the crime scene. Owing to their vital role in the case, the knife and DNA samples qualify as evidence, collected legally, and the defense had no right to suppress them (Schroeder and White, 2009).

Steps in Homicide Investigations

Strategies and Steps

The police use interviewing, and re-interviewing as the main approach to investigate the presented homicide case. The first interview, aimed at identifying the victim's body, which the police conducted with the victim's mother. Apparently, the interview on the victim's best friend, gave some insight whereby the two had an interest on the same male friend. This interview gave police information because it led to the introduction of "Jay" who was one of the suspects. This helped the police in identifying other suspects, associates of the potential suspect (Walton, 2013).

In addition, it helped in revealing the factors that may have led to the killing of the victim. Police also conducted a field search on the roads adjacent to the crime scene. This aims at collecting any other evidence, which police may have omitted, or identification of witnesses who might have information concerning the case. The strategy could also lead to identification of suspects; this assumes that a suspect might check the crime scene, and coincidentally, police bump on them (Miller, 2003). In their field search, police were able to recover potential evidence, which was a knife on Bendix Road.

The knife had dried bloodstain, which contributed greatly to the case. Police further conducted interviews, but this time used questions, which helped them, note the change of tone, or body language of the interviewee (Miller, 2003). Police went further to offer an $8,000 reward, on information concerning the case. The information should provide…

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